I remember loving art when I was 3 or 4 years old. Most of us love art at that time. It’s the greatest feeling to ooze tiny fingers around in fingerpaint, roll shapes from a ball of clay, (didn’t you make little worms of clay, too?) How about mixing colors for Easter egg painting? I remember the “magic” of getting into my mother’s make-up and creating a new face of bright red lips and scarlet chubby cheeks. Looking in the mirror, I was sure I was “the fairest in the land” with my newly fashioned face!
When do we lose this natural attraction to creating with colors, textures, and shapes? How many of us experienced some comment about a prized work of art we created at a tender age–a comment that defeated the joy of creativity, and caused us to believe we just didn’t have what it takes to create art!
A wonderful man remembers sitting in his little desk in first grade and diligently coloring a picture of an elephant. He recalls feeling so proud of the wonderful work he was creating, and could hardly wait until his teacher would see it, as she drifted around the class, encouraging and congratulating her young students on their art work. When she came to his desk, he proudly showed her his very best effort. Instead of being congratulated on his colorful rendition, he heard his teacher exclaim, “Patrick, elephants aren’t GREEN!” Woeful Patrick was deflated. As he told me this story he said, “I didn’t know elephants weren’t green. I had never seen an elephant. I was mortified.”
These kinds of stories abound. “You Can Do It! ART” is all about self-expression! Green elephants are wonderful. Who made the rule that elephants can’t be colored or painted any way a person imagines or enjoys them! This is art, not science. Although there is plenty of room for art and science to coexist, they should not be defined by one another!
You may remember an experience like young Patrick’s. If not at age 6, it may have been earlier. It may have been later. It may be an experience that colored (forgive the pun) your impression of art, and tainted your belief in your own creativity. These experiences are often painfully remembered. But the injury does not prove the source of the pain was the “final answer” to whether you are artistic, creative, or anything else.
I hope you love art. If you do not, I hope you will remember the joy you experienced at a time when creating art satisfied you because YOU did it. It was your creation, no one else’s. Explore art afresh with a liberated mind, remembering the excitement and fun you felt before someone rained on your parade! Enjoy the creative experience again. You do not have to impress anyone. Just paint. Be free. Have fun.